Pros and Cons of Asphalt Shingle Roofing

Closeup of asphalt shingle roofing

Known for affordability, asphalt shingles are the most common type of roofing material in the U.S, representing three-quarters of the roofing market. We looked into the pros and cons of asphalt shingle roofing to help you understand what makes the material so special and whether it is right for your next roof replacement.

What is Asphalt Shingle Roofing?

Found in 80% of homes, asphalt shingles, also known as composite shingles, are made of fiberglass or cellulose mat, asphalt, and mineral granules. Each shingle is a small, flexible, rectangular piece of material installed in overlapping rows to keep out water and protect you from the elements. 

Asphalt shingles last approximately 20 years and work for all climates. There are three dominant styles of asphalt shingles – three-tab, architectural, and designer shingles – all offering distinct characteristics.

Three-Tab Shingles

Three-tab shingles have a flat appearance and look like traditional shingles. They are the cheapest asphalt shingle option comprising an outer layer of asphalt, adhesives, and granules with a fiberglass backing. 

Three-tab shingles have a short lifespan, lasting between 7 to 15 years. These economical shingles can only withstand winds up to 60 mph and are prone to damage. 

Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles are a thicker and more substantial alternative to three-tab shingles. These shingles create a layered, textured aesthetic and are more durable

Architectural shingles last between 18 to 20 years and can withstand strong winds up to 120 mph, making them a more weather-resistant option. 

Designer Shingles 

Designer shingles, also known as luxury shingles, are the largest of the three options. These shingles imitate the appearance of slate roofing and are the most expensive asphalt variety, costing double the price of three-tab shingles. 

Designer shingles are thicker and more weather-resistant and have the longest lifespan of the three options. These shingles last up to 30 years, and in optimal conditions, they can last up to 50 years. 

Closeup of asphalt shingle roofing with text overlay of bullet points of the pros of asphalt roofing
Photo Credit: FASTILY / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0 with text overlay

Pros of Asphalt Shingle Roofing

It is easy to see why asphalt shingle roofing is a popular choice amongst homeowners and roofing companies alike. It is budget-friendly, easy to install, and boosts curb appeal

Easy to Install

Asphalt shingles are light and flexible. Unlike tile or metal roofs, the popular residential roofing option does not require specialized labor to install, and almost all roofing contractors can install an asphalt shingle roof regardless of the variety you choose.

Low Cost

From economical and design perspectives, asphalt shingle roofing systems offer the best of both worlds. Asphalt is one of the least expensive roofing options on the market, and the flexible and easy installation reduces labor costs

Numerous Colors and Styles

Your roof accounts for 40% of your home’s overall curb appeal. While black and brown asphalt shingles remain the most common color choices, the popular roofing material comes in many colors and designs. 

Colors range from gray to brown with red tones mixed in, and some varieties offer shades of green and blue. Many homeowners mix and match light and dark tones to create a vintage and dimensional look. Asphalt shingle roofs offer an economical way to boost your home’s curb appeal. 

Easy to Repair 

While quality asphalt shingles are low maintenance and should last for many years, damage still happens. Bad weather and faulty installation can lead to damaged or missing shingles. 

Asphalt shingles are easy and inexpensive to replace. However, keep in mind that repairs will never be an exact color match because of weathering. 


Asphalt shingles are one of the more fire-resistant roofing materials on the market and can last several hours before catching fire. Most residential asphalt shingles carry a class B fire rating, with some specialized varieties carrying a class A rating. 

Cons of Asphalt Shingle Roofing

Closeup of asphalt shingle roofing with text overlay of bullet points of the cons of asphalt roofing
Photo Credit: FASTILY / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0 with text overlay

Asphalt shingle roofing is everywhere you look. While the popular material is an economical choice, it is not without its drawbacks. 

Short Lifespan

Asphalt isn’t the most durable option. While cost-effective and easy to install, a properly maintained asphalt roof will only last 20 years compared to some more expensive options like metal roofs that last for 50 or more years.

Low Insulation Value

Although a new roof will always be more energy efficient than an old roof, asphalt roofs are not the most insulating material in the market. Metal roofing and tile roofs offer more energy-efficient options. 

Asphalt shingle roofs have a very low insulation value on their own. These roof systems require additional attic insulation to increase energy efficiency.   

Negative Environmental Impact

Some varieties of asphalt shingles are more recyclable than others, but as a whole, asphalt shingle roofs are not environmentally friendly. Shingles are made from asphalt derived from petroleum. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. produces 11 million tons of asphalt shingle waste annually. This waste fills landfills, releasing carcinogenic hydrocarbons into the ground.

Susceptible to Weather Damage

Architectural and designer asphalt shingles can withstand winds up to 120 mph. However, all asphalt shingles are susceptible to weather damage. These shingles can lift in windy and hurricane-prone regions, exposing your roof’s underlayment. 

Most varieties of asphalt shingles are also susceptible to hail damage and falling debris. Specialty high-impact varieties are available for roofs in cold climates to minimize damage.   

How Much Does Asphalt Shingle Roofing Cost?

Shingle roofs are a cost-effective alternative to many roofing materials, making them the most popular option. Asphalt shingles cost an average of $1 to $8 per square foot. 

Cost of Materials Per Square FootNational Average With Labor
Asphalt Shingles$1 to $8$9,056
Three-Tab Shingles$1 to $3$7,500
Architectural Shingles$4 to $7$13,000
Designer ShinglesStart at $8$20,000

FAQ About Asphalt Shingle Roofing

What factors should I consider when choosing roofing materials? 

Aesthetics is an important component to consider when choosing between the different types of roofing materials. However, to ensure the best performance, consider functional factors, including:
— Roof style and slow
— Climate
— Design
— Budget
— Warranties and durability

What are the signs my roof needs to be replaced? 

Large storms with high winds or hail can leave your roof battered. Other times, damage sneaks up on you because of poor maintenance habits. Aside from seeing daylight through your roof, which is never a good sign, look for these other sneaky signs it is time to replace your roof:

— Damaged, loose, curled, missing, or mossy shingles
— Damage or discoloration around vents, chimneys, or skylights 
— Sagging areas 
— Visible leaks or water damage
— Grit (flakes of asphalt shingles) in your gutters
— Your roof is over 20 years old
— Neighbors are having their roofs replaced

Do I need to replace my entire roof or just the shingles? 

It is always advisable to replace your entire roof for maximum protection and energy efficiency. However, storm damage and poor installation also can lead to missing shingles. Luckily, asphalt shingles are one of the easiest roofing materials to repair. 

If you notice missing or damaged shingles in a confined area, you may benefit from shingle replacement. However, if your roof is old, your shingles are curling, or you see pieces of shingles in your gutters or yard, it is time for a new asphalt roof system. 

Asphalt Shingle Roofing Next Steps

Sparking joy is not something you often equate with roofing. However, according to a recent study, a new roof can bring you joy, scoring a 9.2 out of 10, and 87% of homeowners have a greater desire to be home after replacing their roof.

If you are in the market for a new roof or want to explore the different joy-sparking asphalt shingle options, contact a local roofing contractor to learn about the process and materials for your next big project.

Main Photo Credit: FASTILY / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0 with text overlay

Kimberly Magerl

Kimberly Magerl is a writer and data analyst specializing in home improvement, DIY, roofing, and solar technologies. She enjoys growing vegetables in her garden, getting outdoors, and transforming her space with DIY projects. A resident of Texas, when she isn't gardening, Kimberly enjoys trying new recipes and cooking with her home-grown herbs.